New Delhi: A constable brutally attacked during gang-rape protests here succumbed to his injuries Tuesday, shattering his family and colleagues, even as the young rape victim battled for life for the ninth straight day.
Policeman Subhash Chand Tomar`s death was also marred by an unprecedented public spat between Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Delhi Police over the rape victim`s statement given to a magistrate.
Tomar, 47, viciously attacked by a mob near India Gate Sunday after the gang-rape protests turned violent, succumbed to his injuries in a hospital early Tuesday. He was cremated with full state honours.
Additional Commissioner of Police V.V. Chaudhary told IANS that Tomar was an "exceptionally sincere and hard working" policeman who had earned 77 commendations since joining Delhi Police in 1987.
The anguished family blamed protesters for Tomar`s killing.
"The public is responsible for my father`s death. He was brutally beaten up by people. Can they return my father back?" asked a wailing Deepak, his 22-year-old son who lit the funeral pyre with his brother.
Eight people were Sunday night arrested for the attack on Tomar but got bail the next day, Joint Commissioner of Police Taj Hassan said. They will now be booked for murder.
At Sardarjung Hospital, doctors said the young woman who was gang-raped by six males in a moving bus Dec 16 night was still not out of danger.
"Her condition is still critical. She is on partial ventilator support, but better compared to (Monday) as her internal bleeding has significantly reduced," doctor P.K. Verma told reporters.
"She is psychologically stable, and her fighting spirit is on. She is hopeful of a good future and needs emotional strength," psychiatrist R. Rastogi said.
The anti-rape protests Tuesday were a pale shadow of what was seen over the past three days when thousands took to the streets. The anger over the sexual assault triggered massive violence Sunday.
On Tuesday, 100 to 300 mainly young protesters chanted slogans near the Jantar Mantar monument in the heart of the capital demanding justice to the victim. Some wanted the rapists to be hanged.
Parts of the city centre including India Gate area -- which violence erupted Sunday -- remained sealed off. Delhi Metro kept nine stations shut until evening when five were reopened.
The five included Rajiv Chowk, the busiest on the network with a daily footfall of five lakh commuters. Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhavan, Patel Chowk and Race Course Road stations remain closed.
Even as police raced against time to file a chargesheet in the rape case, Chief Minister Dikshit and Delhi Police were locked in a public spat.
Dikshit urged Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to order a "high-level independent enquiry" against senior police officials for allegedly interfering when the rape victim`s statement was recorded by magistrate Usha Chaturvedi.
Police chief Neeraj Kumar denied the allegation.
Chaturvedi accused three senior police officers of putting pressure on her to record the statement the way it suited police. Neeraj Kumar refuted the charge and accused the magistrate of not speaking the truth.
Delhi Police reports to the home ministry, not to Dikshit.
Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said: "We want to ask how a letter marked `Top Secret` reached the media. There should be a probe who leaked it."
The rape victim gave a second statement to a magistrate Monday evening.